Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Westminster Seminary and Scripture

Westminster Theological Seminary in Philadelphia has recently released a document consisting of affirmations and denials regarding the nature of the Bible and biblical interpretation.

Those familiar with the issues surrounding professor Pete Enns' departure know the controversy that WTS has been dealing with. We should pray that God will continue to watch over and bless this great seminary.

You can read the document "Affirmations and Denials Regarding Recent Issues" HERE.


Mike said...


As you could probably guess from previous conversations we have had about biblical interpretation...I thought WTS's statement was convoluted...and sad. I know there are others that are celebrating this turn of events...I just don't happen to be one of them. For instance I don't understand how both of these statements can be true...

–We affirm that the Westminster Standards are fallible, that is, that it is possible in principle that they may err, and, further, that they are open to revision.


–We deny that there are truths found in Scripture but not in the Standards that overthrow or undermine any element in the system of doctrine expounded in the Standards

Are they saying that the Standards are fallible and can be revised if we find something in Scripture that requires it...but at the same time there is nothing in Scripture that disagrees with what the Standards say?

Also the statement "we deny that Scripture at any point affirms a faulty cosmology." So the earth is covered by a solid dome of water (Gen) and is standing on pillars (Job)? This is the kind of nonsense that Hitchens and Dawkins have a field day with.

I had hoped the Pete Enns issue would have taken a better turn at WTS....sadly not.

Todd Pruitt said...


The statement is not convoluted. Do you not understand the purpose of a statement of faith. I know pomo\emergent typse avoid them like the plague.

The WTS statement affirms what Protestants have always affirmed about statements of faith. Being that they are produced by men and are not inspired, statements of faith may err at some points. They must be thoroughly tested in light of Scripture. But insofar as they faithfully interpret what the Bible says, statements of faith are valuable for the life of hte church.

Of course WTS affirms the trustworthiness of the WCF. As far as they know it faithfully interprets Scripture. But they are rightly cautious to point out that the WCF is not on par with Scipture. Why do you find this so hard to understand?

Also, your statement about cosmology makes no sense. It is completely consistent with the doctrine of the Bible's inerrancy to affirm the Bible's use of metaphor, symbol, and pre-scientific language. Before you dismiss the doctrine of Scripture's inerrancy it would be helpful first to understand what it is.

WTS acted appropriately in the Pete Enns situation. I am sure he is a fine man. But he knew he had written a book that did not conform to WTS standards. Interestingly, statements have been made by liberal biblical scholars welcoming Dr. Enns' book as a means to undercut the doctrine of inerrancy.

WTS is a confessional seminary. There are many others that are not. Personally I prefer the former. Clearly you do not.

Mike said...

So is Genesis a metaphorical, symbolic, or pre-scientific understanding of the earth's atmosphere? I don't think the statement made by WTS leans in any of these directions...of course without any direct dialogue with them I am only guessing at what they meant...but it seems a strange statement to be a stand alone in this document. Why did they make it at all? Also if we are open to the Bible containing pre-scientific language isn't that a slippery slope for inerrancy? Seems like we want to pick and choose...

Todd Pruitt said...

Okay Mike